What is an Alt Tag and How to Write it?
Your website can rank at the top of Google SERP only when you invest all your SEO efforts in the right direction. There are several factors that determine your ranking on the search engine, and if you miss even a single one, all your efforts might go into vain.
You must have heard that content is the most vital part of digital marketing, but do you know that adding images also counts as content on your website? There are ways you can make your content rank higher with images, and we are going to discuss that.
What is an Alt Tag?
Images add more value to your content and make it visually appealing. However, simply adding the images won’t help you get to the top of the SERP. You need to add alt tags to your images for an impact. Alt tags are also known as alt descriptions and alt texts. These are written descriptions that appear in place of an image. This alt text allows visually impaired people to understand the context of the image with the help of screen reading tools. It also enables the search engine to crawl the content because the algorithm cannot read the image without alt tags.
Adding alt tags to your images is a sure-shot way to get a higher rank on Google, but regardless of your goal, it creates a better user experience for the visitors. There are three known reasons to explain why alt tags are important for your website.
Google wants its content to be useful for the audience. People who browse are not the same, and some might have different needs than others. For example, there might be someone visually impaired who can’t see the image you have added to your content. Let’s say you are directing your visitor to scroll down, but a visually impaired person is using a screen reading tool to understand your content; without alt text, they won’t be able to understand your direction. Hence, it is important to make your content more accessible for your visitors by adding alt texts in the description. This way, you can make your SEO services even more impactful.
It is also extremely important for a better user experience. Let’s say that a user has a slow internet connection and they are browsing in a hurry for something. They visit your website, and the images take a while to load. The user won’t have time to spare and wait while the images load; it would be helpful if you have alt text in your content. This way, the user will know what the image is about even before the content is loaded completely. You can get rid of a hindrance with this small effort and save your visitor’s time. Otherwise, no one will wait for your images to load; they might consider visiting a different website with alt tags in their images.
Alt tags also help your images surface on search results, whether it’s on Google images or image packs. Image packs appear as a horizontal row in an organic position. This is another way of getting organic traffic on your website. You don’t have to go through extra lengths to make this possible. You can simply add alt tags to your content, and your images will automatically rank organically on search results.
Good vs. Bad Alt Tag
By adding alt texts in your image, we don’t mean that you should simply write a description with keywords. There’s a difference between good and bad alt tags. If your alt tag is good, your chances of ranking higher are enhanced. However, if you add a bad alt text for your image, Google will identify it.
You might be wondering how you can differentiate between good and bad alt tags. It’s simple, have a look at this example:
alt= “Trajital digital marketing agency in the UK, picture telling what is an alt tag for SEO optimisation.”
It might seem alright to your eyes, but if you see it from Google’s perspective, this alt tag is loaded with keywords. If you stuff your alt tag with keywords, it doesn’t explain the purpose well, and Google doesn’t appreciate it. This simply means that you are aiming to rank higher on Google by leveraging your keywords to their full potential. Your goal should be to explain your picture, while also infusing keywords naturally. Here’s an example of good alt text.
alt= “What is an alt tag, example for better SEO optimization by Trajital.”
Another thing that makes good alt texts distinct from bad ones is the specificity of things. You should explain your picture in the right manner. If you mention specifics in your image, it becomes easier for visitors and Google to understand your visual content better. Let’s say there’s an image of a famous building in your content. Instead of writing “a famous building” in your alt text, you should mention the actual name of the building for more specificity.
You should also focus on the context of your image. The name of the famous building is your context, but what is there no name to mention?
In this case, adding context to your image might be difficult. You can mention the name of the topic your web page is discussing. This will also work as context so your audience can avoid being dumbfounded.
Best Practices to Create Alt Tags
Following are some of the best practices that you can implement to create alt tags for your images.
Describe the Image with Specificity
Alt tags are here so people with visual impairment can also benefit from your content. The purpose is to describe your images so everyone can understand. You should bring specificity in your alt tags. Talk about specifics that are being shown in the image. Don’t give vague explanations because if you do, it will be as good as not having alt tags in your content.
Make them Relatable
Your alt tags should be related to the content of your image. You cannot write something totally opposite in your alt tags. Google wasn’t as smart a few decades ago, but things have changed, and Google knows when someone is doing irrelevant things to boost their ranking on the search engine. If your content and alt tags are related, your chances of ranking are automatically increased.
Keep them Short
Nothing is more off-putting than incomplete alt tags. There’s a character limit to your alt descriptions. If you write long alt tags, they might not be visible to the audience because you exceeded the limit. If this happens, you will fail to give the visitors a context of your image. You need to keep your characters under 125 because screen-reading tools usually stop reading after that.
Get Straight to Point
Starting your alt tag with “picture of” or “image of” is not a good start. You should get right into the topic because there’s a character limit. Tell the screen reader what you are talking about right away so Google can see that you are not here to waste your audience’s time.
Use Keywords Naturally
As we mentioned earlier, the use of keywords is important in your alt tags, but that’s not what you should entirely focus on. Your SEO services will only work if you make smart use of keywords. Try to infuse them as naturally as possible so Google doesn’t think that you are trying to fool it. Add related keywords to your alt tags so they naturally blend in with the context of your image. You also shouldn’t try to add keywords to all your alt tags. You might have more than one picture on your webpage, but adding keywords in every alt tag will be equivalent to keyword stuffing.
Wrong spellings in your alt tags can do more harm to your webpage than you think. It not only confuses the reader, but the crawlers also find it difficult to rank a webpage that has wrong spellings in alt descriptions. Hence, before you publish anything new on your website, make sure you check the spelling in your alt tags to avoid any errors.
Don’t Add Alt Tags in All Images
One thing that you should keep in mind is that it is not essential to add alt descriptions in all of your images. Yes, you should add alt tags in more images on your website, but there must be some pictures that are there for decorative purposes and don’t give any information to the audience. You can leave those images as they are. Adding unnecessary alt tags can also affect your SEO ranking, and too much effort can also be a problem. So make sure that you are smarter with your alt tags and add them where they are needed.
Aiming for a better user experience is important, and Google also appreciates it when you do. You can do a quick audit of your website to identify where you need to add alt tags and believe us, the more images you optimise, the better ranking you will get.
Let’s find out how to work together and create something meaningful or valuable.